Martin T. Manton Trial: 1939
"without Regard To The Merits", "conspiracy Constitutes The Offense"
Appellant & Defendant: Martin T. Manton
Appellee & Plaintiff: United States
Appellant Claim: Reversal of conviction for conspiracy to obstruct the administration of justice and to defraud the United States, and dismissal of sentence
Chief Lawyers for Plaintiff: John T. Cahill, Mathias F. Correa, Frank H. Gordon, Silvio J. Mollo, and Robert L. Werner
Chief Lawyers for Appellant: William J. Hughes, William E. Leahy, John E. Mack, and E. Donald Wilson
Judges: Specially constituted federal court: George Sutherland (former justice, U.S. Supreme Court); Harlan F. Stone (justice, U.S. Supreme Court); Charles E. Clark (judge, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit)
Place: New York, New York
Date of Decision: December 4, 1939
Decision: Conviction upheld (Sentence: 2 years imprisonment and $10,000 fine)
SIGNIFICANCE: This unique appeal brought the senior judge of the country's most prominent federal appeals court before his own colleagues. With all but one of the court's judges disqualified because of their previous association with the appellant, a special federal court had to be constituted to hear the appeal. The case, involving a scandal unique in federal court history, established a landmark in the delineation of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
In 1939, Martin T. Manton was the senior circuit judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a position second only to the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. As a lawyer, Manton had made more than a million dollars before his appointment to the bench in 1916. His fortune, invested in real estate and business, had been severely depleted by the Depression.
With his friend William J. Fallon and several other men, Manton was indicted in April 1939, for conspiring to influence, obstruct and impede justice and to "defraud the United States of its right to have its legal functions exercised free from unlawful impairment."
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